Exodus 30:34-38 (ESV)
The LORD said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.”
Just as we saw with the anointing oil, anyone who uses this incense recipe for a common purpose shall be cut off from his people. Intriguingly, these passages don’t say who will do the cutting off. Are the Israelites instructed to cut someone off who they catch doing this, or is this saying that God will cut them off?
It’s God. There are dozens of prohibitions where the offender is cut off from his people (Israel). In some cases the LORD specifically says that He’ll be the one doing it.
“I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.
If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” – Leviticus 20:3-6 (ESV)
In many of these other cases, it would be difficult to prove that someone committed a violation. Also, no rules for judging these cases are given. So, it appears that being cut off is a judgment of God.
That’s worse. It means expulsion from the covenant and from His blessing.
Praise the LORD that He is a God of grace. One of the prime ways the modern church models this is through prison ministry. Always pray for those ministries. They need them more than most.
And don’t forget to pray for the prisoners. Some are very serious believers. Others are very serious unbelievers. They range from the most impressive to the least.
But if God can turn Saul into Paul, no one is beyond hope. Ask the LORD to work in their hearts. Ask God to help us minister to them effectively and, most importantly, to minister in a way that glorifies Him.
That’s just a start. Consider getting educated about prison ministries in your area – educated enough that you give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to call you in this direction.
That call doesn’t have to happen – it didn’t with me – but you’ll know enough to pray detailed prayers.
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: